EDMO Ireland and FuJo made a submission to the consultation on the national strategy for literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy that is being developed by the Department of Education and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
The submission welcomes the inclusion of digital literacy in the proposed strategy as the previous strategy, which ran from 2011-2020, was limited to literacy and numeracy. However, it also identifies several weaknesses regarding the concept and implementation of digital literacy that is outlined in the discussion paper developed by the departments. In particular, a narrow focus on “digital skills” conflates the ability to use technology with the kind of critical knowledge that is required for literacy. For example, a young person may know how to use a search engine but lack any understanding of how the results are determined and why they might be biased or limited.
The authors suggest that media literacy is a more relevant concept than digital literacy because media literacy entails digital literacy, but is fundamentally about empowering citizens to make well-informed decisions regarding the content and information they consume. In terms of fostering ethical and responsible participation in civic life, media literacy underpins fundamental values including democracy, equity, justice, and tolerance.
Unfortunately, Ireland follows most European countries in lacking a national strategy to implement media literacy in schools where it is often conceived narrowly as an ICT-related subject. In addition, there is a no strategy to ensure that student teachers are equipped with the ability to teach the subject. Moreover, parents and other caregivers may lack fundamental knowledge about relevant technologies and platforms used by children and young people.
To address these issues, the FuJo and EDMO Ireland submission makes the following recommendations:
- Address relevant literacies by adopting the broader concept of media literacy, which encompasses digital literacy.
- Go beyond skills by focusing on the critical knowledge and attitudes that underpin media literacy.
- Embed media literacy in the curriculum to overcome ad hoc provisions.
- Empower teachers with a plan for training student teachers in media literacy in addition to opportunities for continuous professional learning.
- Empower parents and caregivers to understand the dynamics of digital technologies and digital media.
Read the full submission here: